‘Spicy’ Articles, Spring 2015

Forbes: What’s Driving The Global Chili Pepper Craze?

This article is one of those “I have a new book out, so let me write a few words here to make you want to buy it” pieces – and it works. It does sound like an interesting new book ;)

I’m still not so sure, having just recently looked at production and trade statistics about the chile peppers, that there is a global chile pepper craze in recent years. It is certainly becoming more popular in Europe and the US, but people in the areas with “chilli cuisines” (types of cooking that use chilli as one of their basic flavor principles) don’t seem to be increasing their consumption, just on keeping on eating pretty hot.
So, maybe it’s more of an impression based on the rising popularity and thus attention…

Even so, it’s an interesting article and perhaps an even more interesting book if you are wondering what’s behind the feeling that something is Tasty.

The Atlantic: Learning to Like Spicier Food. Can people train themselves to tolerate heat?

Of course we know that one can – within limits. It’s noteworthy to see an article like this in The Atlantic, though – and having just talked about books, now I wonder if there’s a training manual for the person wanting to eat hotter out there ;)

What I noticed here was the way they explained the chemical-physical mechanism of TRPV1 (also an issue when it came to chilli, pain, and long life).

Frankly, I always thought that the capsaicin directly triggered those receptors that normally sense high temperatures. But here, they say it changes them so that they become more sensitive and react to lower temperatures already – in fact, to body temperature.

That would explain why panting, drawing cooler air over the receptors, feels helpful!…

Modern Farmer: Black Pepper: Close-Up. Black, white or green – they are all peppercorns.

This is here more for the oddity of an  article that sounds like a plant portrait, then ends up being way too short. Not to mention that they write that “black, white or green – they are all peppercorns” and they promptly forgot red peppercorns (not to be confused with the so-called pink peppercorns which come from Schinus molle and have nothing whatsoever, botanically, to do with black pepper).

NPR’s The Salt: How Snobbery Helped Take The Spice Out Of European Cooking

It’s a bit suspicious when an article by an author of Indian descent is all based on research out of India and completely forgets to mention that the main idea reported on was actually brought up and given support a few years ago already by a group of US authors…

Be that as it may, the article is a nice introduction to the theme of flavor combinations and how spice availability, human taste preferences, and sociocultural patterns all work together to shape what flavors become popular and what flavors fall out of fashion.

Focusing on Indian food, the focus here is on the combination of complementary/similar vs. different flavors, but this theme has also been discussed in the context of pungent aromas and the popularity (or lack thereof) of chilli in various of the world’s cuisines…


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